Bay wildlife suffers during water crisis

2019-09-18 06:00
Vervet monkeys were recently visible in the Bay’s residential areas.             photo:FACEBOOK

Vervet monkeys were recently visible in the Bay’s residential areas. photo:FACEBOOK

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WITH only 98.3mm of rainfall recorded during winter in Port Elizabeth, wildlife has been badly affected by the crippling water shortage.

Incidents were reported of vervet monkeys, in particular, seeking refuge in Port Elizabeth’s residential areas, causing alarm for some residents.

According to Arnold Slabbert, chairperson of Wildline in Port Elizabeth, the welfare of wild animals in the Bay area is being increasingly disregarded.

“The decrease in rainfall we have experienced in the Nelson Mandela Bay has increased the visibility of wild animals. Also, there are people who hunt animals in open spaces and this results in the animals fleeing their natural habitat,” Slabbert explained.

While the ongoing water crisis is having a devastating impact on residents in the Bay, desperate wildlife is increasingly on the move in search of water, food or grazing on roadside greenery, leading to inherent danger.

Slabbert said that the biggest increase in wild animal reports was in the Lorraine area recently.

He has since urged residents to report cases to Wildline, which rescues, rehabilitates and releases hundreds of wild animals every year.

The wild animals visible in residential areas include vervet monkeys, porcupines, tortoises, snakes, baboons and bushbuck.

According to Ward 8 councillor, Gustav Rautenbach, there had been some incidents of snakes in the Lorraine area.

Rautenbach added, “We have to keep in mind that these animals were in the vicinity of Lorraine before it was developed into a residential area.

“Also, Lorraine is surrounded by bushes and open spaces, and as a result of this, snakes, owls and tortoises are usually found in the area.”

Slabbert said that residents feared the animals and often threw stones at them to try to get rid of them.

However, instead of harming the animals, Slabbert advised that residents should not approach them, as they would naturally go away on their own.

He added, “I understand that many people are fearful if they see a wild animal roaming on their property.

“These animals are being forced to seek water and food far outside their normal range.

“Vervet monkeys in particular are only there for a short period, and once fed, they become a burden to people.

“We continue to carefully monitor the situation, and the impact of the increase in wildlife in the Bay area,” he said.

Slabbert cautioned residents not to feed the animals and to remove pet food, water bowls, garbage and other items that could possibly attract wild animals.

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